Medical performance and development during the Syrian Revolution (Part 1 of 2)

اعداد هبة دباس | تحرير هبة دباس | ترجمة غلوري جابر | تحرير الترجمة Vera Halvorsen 🕔 تم النشر بتاريخ : 6 فبراير، 2018 3:30:37 م تقرير موضوعي اجتماعيإغاثي وإنساني مجتمع مدني

At the outbreak of the Syrian Revolution and the start of non-violent demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad's government, forces loyal to him used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters. However, the loyalist forces soon moved on to using live fire and to targeting gatherings of demonstrators with mortar shells. This development was the key motivator in forming a secret unit for medical emergencies. The unit treats injured demonstrators despite risk of arrest should it be discovered by hospital staff loyal to the government.

The beginning of medical professionals' humanitarian work and their motivation:

Doctors and medical professionals across Syria began sympathising with protestors injured during demonstrations, and thus began treating them according to the Hippocratic Oath. The oath requires physicians to treat all patients equally, regardless of one’s religious, ethnic or political affiliations. The nature of work carried out by physicians makes them particularly vulnerable to arrest.

SMART interviewed several doctors at the end of January 2018. They described the characteristics of working in field hospitals since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. In most Syrian cities and areas where demonstrations took place, demonstrators were subjected to live fire, sound bombs, and tear gas, in addition to being beaten by sticks, leaving dozens injured.

At this juncture, the need for mutual trust becomes the only factor in treating a patient. Activists usually transfer the wounded to someone’s home, a doctor’s clinic, or a basement, equipped with a bed and emergency medical equipment. Through a principle of mutual trust, they then call in the doctor. According to Dr. Abdul Karim Qaziz, the emergency doctor treats the patient to the extent allowed by the makeshift clinic, and free of charge. If the patient requires surgery, the doctor utilises personal networks and covertly organises a patient transferral to either a private or public hospital, without alerting government hospital authorities.

The nurse Ali Osman from Jisr al-Shughour told SMART about a method he used to ensure his own safety, as well as that of the doctor he worked with, when attempting to secretly treat one of the injured protestors. Osman said, “I bought a 50 Syrian pound bill and divided it into two halves. I kept one half with me and gave the other to the doctor. The doctor did not respond to the call of anyone claiming to be sent by me unless if they held the other half of the 50-pound bill. This method helped us avoid the involvement of government security members and traitors, and mitigated the risk of arrest.”

Dr Abdul Karim Qaziz, a consultant in the Central Coordinating Body of Health Directorates for areas outside government control, said that a number of colleagues from his previous workplace, the Razi hospital in Damascus, were arrested or even killed under torture by the government for their medical treatment of anti-government protesters.

The beginning of organized medical work after the emergence of "liberated areas":

Increasing numbers of demonstrations led the government to intensify its bombarding of cities and towns where demonstrations were taking place. In this context, medical work evolved from mobile emergency clinics to established and somewhat organized field hospitals and medical clinics, with some medical staff available on permanent call.

The small medical clinics and field hospitals depend on donor contributions for medical materials and equipment. This includes contributions from owners of pharmacies, doctors, as well as personal donations gifted from individuals within the region, or from expatriates outside of Syria. Expatriates tend to be the most supportive group for this medical work, as most of them are doctors who want to establish a medical system filling the gaps and needs within a multi-faceted health sector.

As the Free Syrian Army (FSA) begins to gain control of neighbourhoods and cities in Syria, doctors interviewed by SMART who are moving among field hospitals in most areas, feel that medical work in this period has taken a complete different course. The course reflects the filling in of gaps, of providing basic medical needs, and of establishing an integrated medical sector to serve those areas where the government has closed hospitals and clinics. All this works has been supported by humanitarian and medical organizations as well as external donations.

Dr. Abdul Karim Qaziz described aspects of his time working with just nurses and an ambulance driver, in a field hospital in the district of al-Sukari, Aleppo. He spoke of how he had agreed with the rest of the doctors of the eastern neighbourhoods, to spread the medical clinics so that medical staff would not be gathered in one place if it were to be bombed, thereby ensuring the continuity of medical work and avoiding preventable losses as much as could be done.

However, it has not been possible for hospitals in the the town of Madaya to receive any support due to the long and suffocating siege imposed by the loyalist forces. This has led to a lack of resources and medical staff, as well as an insufficiently skilled medical staff unable to receive further specialised training. The doctor of the field hospital in the town of Madaya, Dr Muhammad Darwish, said that as a third year student in the Dentistry Faculty, he worked with a veterinarian and an anaesthesiologist in the hospital two years after its establishment. The medical staff there was responsible for surgery operations at the rate of two operations a day, and dealt with cases of malnutrition and chronic diseases. Dr Darwish explained that since the establishment of the hospital, injured demonstrators and fighters of the (FSA) in the nearby eastern mountain and the city of Zabadani had been treated in the hospital.

According to Dr Muhammad Kattoub, the director of the Advocacy Office in the organization Sams, and previous sources, "the military factions, since their formation, have not interfered in the work of the medical sector and respected their work for many reasons, including the urgent need for these medical clinics; and if these clinics strike from work, that will cause a crisis that can not be dealt with by the factions." Dr Kattoub added that they had encountered some attempts of intervention by Islamist and other battalions. However, these interventions or "harassments" did not cause any differences or problems, because other parties intervene quickly to preserve the independence and impartiality of medical work.

Furthermore Dr Qaziz narrated that, in the neighborhood of al-Sukari, they were treating prisoners and members of the loyalist forces and dealing with them based on the Hippocratic Oath, in front of the ruling factions at the time. He confirmed that these factions didn’t reject this matter, pointing to the degree of "awareness and understanding" of some leaders.

According to the doctors interviewed by SMART, all provided medical services to the demonstrators and civilians of their hometowns, as well as moved between towns and cities throughout Syria. They further stated that a number of them had contributed to the establishment and formation of humanitarian organizations supporting the work of hospitals. Moreover, they established the foundations of the medical sector according to the possibilities and needs of that time based on their relationships inside and outside Syria. SMART will publish a detailed report on the role and future of these organizations.

الاخبار المتعلقة

اعداد هبة دباس | تحرير هبة دباس | ترجمة غلوري جابر | تحرير الترجمة Vera Halvorsen 🕔 تم النشر بتاريخ : 6 فبراير، 2018 3:30:37 م تقرير موضوعي اجتماعيإغاثي وإنساني مجتمع مدني
التقرير السابق
النظام يحتكر المتة وسوريون يؤكدون أنها ليست "مشروبا طائفيا"
التقرير التالي
سقوط مروحية تركية فوق منطقة عفرين وروسيا تدعو إسرائيل والنظام السوري لـ"ضبط النفس"